I learned a lot from cartoons when I was a kid. One of my favourite memorable lines from a Sylvester and Tweety vignette came when Sylvester was supposed to be “looking after” Tweety, but when Grannie wasn’t looking, Sylvester was doing all he could to ingest Tweety! After being found out, at one point, Tweety said, “Ooo, what a hypotwit!”
Now, I must admit I’m a bit fond of the idea of creating a new word that combines hypocrite and twit to make ‘hypotwit’, but in reality, Tweety was just calling Sylvester a hypocrite. So I learned from that cartoon that a hypocrite is somebody who says s/he will do one thing and then turns around and does the opposite.
Hypocrisy is not restricted to the realm of animated cats and birds; you and I have been victims of hypocrisy, and, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve even committed hypocrisy at some point in our lives.
People often say that the church is full of hypocrites. And there’s a measure of truth to that statement, inasmuch as any group of people, brought together, will have hypocrites in their number. Since the time of Adam and Eve’s fall, hypocrisy has been part of human society.
The trick, for growing followers of Jesus, is to be intentional about seeking to avoid hypocrisy. It’s easy enough to just admit we’re sinners and live with our hypocrisy. But God invites us to grow beyond it, so that as the church becomes more mature, it becomes less hypocritical. And when that happens, people will see the difference, and want to know what makes you different!
The same is true of judgmentalism. People often levy a charge of “judgmental hypocrisy” against the church, and sometimes it’s right. After all, we’ve all seen the unfortunate placards that the people of a certain church in the US use to discourage people from homosexual activity. They’re not in any way kind or gracious; they are, in fact, judgmental.
It’s a myth, though, that God doesn’t want his people to judge. We’re all required to judge, for if we didn’t, there would be nothing but chaos in the world! But there is a difference between being judgmental and judging. Making judgment calls, and speaking the truth in love with words characterized by grace, is biblical. Condemning sin and sinner with one whip of the tongue (or one slip of the pen) is not biblical.
Again, as growing followers of Jesus, God invites us to be intentional about moving away from judgmentalism toward making judgment calls characterized by grace. If we can avoid being hypocritical, and avoid being judgmental – while still speaking and living God’s truth – we will find that the church of Jesus Christ will be more like what God designed it to be, and it will change the world.